Friends

Once upon a time, I was a Texan. I lived in north Houston back in the early 80’s, and I was a secretary for a State Farm agent. And a young wife and mother. And pianist at tiny Greenridge Baptist Church in the Aldine area, where I played for worship and anything else that came along. We picked that church because it was only four blocks from our apartment at the time. We stayed because they became our family.

Just the sheer definition of the word means that, after nearly 30 years, I am still close to some of those folks who were our church family. The pastor and his precious wife took us in, being the parents we needed while raising young children more than a thousand miles away from our own. One son led the music, another sang, a daughter-in-law taught Sunday school, and their youngest son was my piano student.

BJ loved the music of the 80’s and we spent a lot of time with Steve Perry & Journey working on “Open Arms” and Bryan Adams working on “(Everything I Do) I Do it For You.” But he had (and still has) a heart for The Lord so we also worked on hymns of the church and improvising on those. We practiced and played through a pregnancy and new baby for me… And a chain saw injury for him, among other things.

Then abruptly, in the summer of 1986, I moved away. When we left Houston for vacation, I had no idea I wouldn’t be back in a couple of weeks. But God had other plans. I got a new job here, and could not even return to pack up the house. One of the hardest phone calls I ever made was to let those precious people know that I wasn’t returning. I grieved. They were my family, after all, and had helped us through new babies, cancer, death of a loved one, being homesick… So much.

A few weeks after our sudden move to the bluegrass state, I got a package in the mail. It was a framed piece with the lyrics to Michael W. Smith’s song, “Friends.” Again, I wept. And I knew that I hadn’t lost my friends, my family. It only meant that we were separated by distance.

I woke up with “Friends” in my head this morning. And, friends, I will tell you that a lifetime is NOT too long to live as friends if God is The Lord of them.

Friends are friends forever
If The Lord’s The Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
For the welcome will not end
Though it’s hard to let you go
In the Fathers hands we know
That a lifetime’s not too long
To live as friends.

I love how God can turn mourning into rejoicing! After I left the piano bench at that little church, BJ stepped in and sat down. And he was born to it!!!! He found a gift that he didn’t know he had, and went on to play at other churches, lead worship, write songs, and even had a contemporary Christian music group that performed all over the Houston area. I am forever grateful for his ministry and his family. They’ll never know the impact they had on me and my family. They taught me selflessness and love.

Click to listen to a lyric video version of Michael W. Smith’s Friends It’s an oldie now, but every word rings true.

Open Eyes

As I opened the eyes of my body this morning, I was hearing “open the eyes of my heart, Lord.

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see You
I want to see You
To see You high and lifted up
Shinin’ in the light of Your glory
Pour out Your power and love
As we sing holy, holy, holy

Michael W. Smith’s song has now become a praise and worship standard, yet it’s so simple. The version he recorded is different from the one in my head this morning. Mine is much more quiet and prayerful, but then I’m an audience of one instead of 20,000!

I’m reading through Max Lucado’s book, Come Thirsty, right now. This morning I read, “The problem is the agenda of the human race. We pursue the wrong priority. We want good health, a good income, a good night’s rest, and a good retirement. Our priority is We.” GUILTY!! Reading Max’s words and hearing Michael’s song at the same time have brought me to my knees this morning.

When, how, why did I ever get to the place where I thought this life was all about me?? What I need, what I want, my desires, my hopes, my dreams? I have hopes. I have dreams. I have wishes, desires, plans… But, God, I want to glorify YOU in them. Open the eyes of my heart this morning and every morning. Show me where You need me to be.

This world… This life… Is not my final destination. God use me here, love me here, and leave me here until Your work is finished in my life.

I Give You My Heart

I woke up this morning with Michael W. Smith singing this wonderful prayer chorus in my head. Sleepy as I was, I was excited to write about this song when I got to my desk. But now that I’m here, I’m stuck. I’ve started several times and deleted. The simplicity of these words and this melody speak for themselves. In fact, they are so simple and beautiful that I’ve written them out as my prayer this morning…

“This is my desire, to honor You. Lord, with all my heart, I worship You. With all that is within me I give You praise, and all that I adore is in You. Lord, I give You my heart. I give You my soul. I live for You alone. Every breath that I take, every moment I’m awake, Lord, have Your way in me.”

If you don’t know this song, please listen to Michael perform it. I’d love to know your thoughts on this song. It’s an old one, and when I tried to get the stats I could find nothing about when it was recorded. But when I typed “I give you my heart Michael w smith” into the search engine, it returned OVER 108,000,000 results!!!

In my wildest dreams, I cannot imagine having that kind of impact for The Lord!!! Millions of people searching for God in the internet. And finding this beautiful, simple song. I hope they listen, and I hope they search for others and listen to those. I hope they find what they’re looking for… Because if we seek Him with all our heart, we WILL find Him.

And if we worship the Father in spirit and in truth, He will seek us! (John 4:23)

Control… Or lack of it.

I can, on occasion, be a control freak. I know that my husband and my children may have an opinion on that, as in… “On occasion?” BUT it’s not nearly as bad as it used to be. The older I get, the less and less I need to control the world around me.

Unfortunately, the one area that I’ve always struggled is with self-control. I’ve never been very good at that, even though I’ve tried. I’ve read books. I’ve done Bible studies. I’ve prayed. Food is my drug of choice. I’ve fought that battle my whole life, and I have done much better in the last 15 years or so but I’m paying for it now with Type 2 diabetes. And the battle rages on.

The song in my head this morning is really just one line on repeat… “All you’ve ever wanted was my heart.” I blogged about this song a month ago, but it’s back. (Listen here.) As I sit here writing, it occurs to me how pointless the struggle has been all these years. Struggle for control, struggle with food, struggle with weight control, with exercise, with priorities. “All You wanted was my heart.”

If I give You my heart, everything else falls into place. Only You can take my heart and shape it into what You want it to be. If my heart’s desire is to know You, to love You, to serve You, then nothing else matters. I can try to control my life, my appetite, my surroundings, my thoughts… But at the end of the day, only You are in control.

This reminds me of a line from a Michael W. Smith song… “Lord, I give You my heart, I give You my soul. I live for You alone. Every breath that I take, every moment I’m awake, Lord have Your way in me.” This is my prayer today. I’ve written it on a post-it note and will keep it in front of me all day.